9.7-WEB- RTE-Pruitt1.jpg

James L. White/Staff

What appear to be massive pipes in this photo are actually steel casings that will be used to keep dirt and gravel out of the foundations for the new bridge over the Buffalo National River at Pruitt until concrete can be poured to replace the void of material drilled out.

PRUITT — Arkansas Department of Transportation officials say work on the new bridge over the Buffalo River at Pruitt is on schedule and should be completed by December 2020.

ArDOT awarded the contract to replace the bridge earlier this year. Crouse Construction got the contract with a bid of about $13.6 million.

The condition of the existing bridge, built in 1931, has deteriorated over the years as traffic between Harrison and Russellville on Highway 7 has increased.

According to ArDOT, an average of 2,800 vehicles crossed the Pruitt Bridge per day in 2016 and 13% of those vehicles were large trucks.

ArDOT District 9 staff engineer Stacy Burge said the new bridge will be supported by drilled shaft foundations.

That means the contractor will drill through the dirt and gravel until they encounter competent rock, then another 16 feet into the rock. The total drilled depth is expected to be between 37 and 40 feet, Burge said.

What appear to be massive pipes in the construction area beside Highway 7 are actually steel casings used to keep the dirt and gravel out of the foundation until the reinforcing steel can be set in place and concrete poured to fill the void of what was drilled, Burge said.

Most of the drilled shaft foundations are eight feet in diameter. Three bridge bents will be installed to support the bridge and each one will be supported by two drilled shaft foundations.

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